Two Wrongs Make a Right (2 page)

BOOK: Two Wrongs Make a Right
7.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Brad’s mouth fell open. “Are you insane? Those bottles cost over four hundred dollars each!”

She smiled down at him. “Yes. I am insane for wasting three years of my life and believing you loved me. I’ll take a taxi home.” She didn’t give him a chance to respond, just slung her purse over her shoulder, and hurried to the ladies room.

Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she adjusted her skirt, and then smoothed her hair. How could she have been so blind? It sounded like a song lyric, but it was a valid question. Sure, sex hadn’t been so great lately, but all couples went through dry spells. Work stress and schedules took their toll. Or her first idea was right. He’d never loved her.

Shaking her head to clear it, she decided the reason didn’t matter. Only the result. Bottom line—he didn’t want her. A tear slid down her cheek and she wiped it away. She had to pick up her order before Brad refused payment. Squaring her shoulders, she rushed to the counter, got the goods, and made her getaway.

As the cab pulled from the curb Quinn opened one of the to-go boxes, removed a Madeleine, and shoved it into her mouth. The cake felt like sawdust against her tongue. She stared out the window at passing cars, licked her lips and tasted salty tears.
Damn him
. She sniffed, wiped them away with the sleeve of her jacket, and reminded herself crying was useless. It was over, and that, was that.

An hour later, sitting on her sofa polishing off her third éclair, she took stock of the place. As much as she hated to admit it, Brad had a point. It was depressing and in a bad location. Given his reputation as a tightwad, he should appreciate her thrift store furniture and lack of décor. He’d told her he admired her because she didn’t need fancy things. Guess she wasn’t fancy enough.

Holding the glass of champagne up to the light, she played back his expression. It was worth four hundred dollars and change. The tag hanging around the neck of the bottle caught her attention. She removed it and read:
The bouquets lilting and even radiance presents an orange-red gleam. On the palate, experience an aggressive occurrence that has rich completeness along with caressing depth.

Too bad a drink had to furnish her with completeness and caressing, because Brad sure as hell never would. Reaching for another pastry, the phone rang. Maybe he’d come to his senses and realized a life without her wasn’t worth living. She grabbed her cell without looking at the caller and pressed it to her ear. “Brad?”

“It’s Megan. Did he pop the question? I couldn’t wait until morning to find out.”

Quinn sniffed, and then stared at the cream filled profiterole to concentrate on the sugar-high she had going in place of her broken heart. “No. He didn’t. We’re done.”

“Oh God. We’re coming over.”

“We?”

“Yeah. I’ll stop and get Raynie on the way.”

“No! Don’t come…” It was too late. The line was dead.

She sank deeper into the couch. The good Lord knew she loved her two friends, and they were great to want to offer comfort. But she wanted to be alone, in her miserable apartment, with her thrift store furniture, binging on French desserts and taking pure pleasure knowing the money she’d forced Brad to spend had his butt hole clenched so tight he wouldn’t be able to crap for a week.

CHAPTER TWO

 

Quinn scurried into the kitchen, reached into the cupboard for two more champagne flutes and rotated one in her hand.
Waterford
. So beautiful, and she’d gotten them for almost nothing at an estate sale.

Then her eyes swept the room. She’d done her best to decorate the place. Bright yellow cabinets. Backsplash of sample tiles, bought on closeout. So what if they were every color in the crayon box? They fit right in with the antique dining table and mismatched chairs. Not to mention the homemade chandelier of punch cups dangling from the light fixture. Although the place reflected her personality, Brad was right.

Maybe she should move. No. Who was she kidding? She’d never find another place for such low rent, and the neighborhood wasn’t that bad. Other than being old and rundown, the crime rate was the lowest in the city. Even criminals didn’t expect to find anything worth stealing in this gloomy area.

She reached back into the cabinet and retrieved a stack of serving platters. No need to use a cardboard box. Desserts tasted better displayed on a pretty plate. But which one to choose? The Blue Willow? Sons Chatsworth?
Hmm
. The Haviland Limoges with delicate pink roses and gold handles, another garage sale find. Perfect.

As she finished arranging the sweets on the tray, the doorbell rang. She squared her shoulders and turned the lock, ready to relive the night’s events. Her two best friends pulled her into a hug.

“He’s a dick. A dick brain. A brainless dick.”

“Why don’t you tell us how you really feel?” Megan asked Raynie, and then turned to Quinn. “But she’s right. He was never good enough for you.”

Raynie released her and stepped back. “What’s wrong with him?” Grabbing Quinn’s shoulders she spun her around. “What’s not to love? Dark brown eyes. Midnight hair. I’d kill for your looks. Besides, in my profession, people expect me to be exotic.”

“With my pale skin, not sure I’d consider myself exotic, but whatever I am, it isn’t the look Brad wants.” From the amount of pastries and champagne she’d had, a weak smile was all Quinn could muster. “I’m an idiot. I convinced myself a proposal was coming, but he never intended to marry me. To make matters worse, he tried to sell me his condo.”

Hands on hips, Raynie backed away and scowled. “Are you kidding?”

“I hope you gave him a piece of your mind.” Megan’s face pinched and she rested an elbow on the counter. Quinn was thankful for their support.

“I did better than that. Thanks to him, we have refreshments.”

Raynie picked up a cookie and poked a small bite into her mouth. “How’d you swing that?”

“He offered to let me order anything I wanted for dessert. I guess he thought that would soften the blow. So I did, and his expression? Priceless.”

“Oh my Lord. Is that Dom Pérignon?” Megan’s brows lifted, and then she picked up the bottle for closer inspection.

“Yep. I guarantee he will never forget tonight. It cost him hundreds, and he deserved it.” Quinn’s face lost color. “Oh no. My mother. I’ll bet she’s already told all her friends I’m getting married. I can hear her now. She’ll say this is my fault.”

“Don’t worry about her.” Raynie passed a glass to Quinn and waved the idea away. “Part of your problem is you’ve spent most of your life trying to please Mommy.”

Quinn took the plate of goodies in one hand, her drink in the other, and strolled to the sofa with her friends following. She set the treats down, picked up an éclair, held it in midair and stared at it. “There is nothing better than French pastries.”

“You’d better slow down,” Megan said. “I don’t want you to overdose because of Brad.”

Quinn turned to face her. She should be so lucky. Megan married her high school sweetheart, and Charlie was one of the best men on the planet. If anyone deserved him, it was Megan. She raked a long auburn curl behind her ear, and Quinn eyed her with envy. The red-haired beauty always looked great. Even now, without a drop of makeup, her skin glowed and her blue eyes sparkled with intense interest.

In contrast, Raynie rotated husbands like a circus carousel. What man could resist a blonde with emerald eyes, not to mention her perfectly portioned body? She twirled around, her tiered skirt swishing with the movement, and the eyelet ruffle on her off the shoulder blouse fluttered in concert. “I should do a reading.” She rummaged in her purse and produced her deck of Tarot cards.

“No.” Quinn wagged her head. Her last reading had been in college, and even though she didn’t believe in the ability to see the future, having the death card show up every time was enough to refuse. “If something else bad is going to happen, I don’t want to know.”

Raynie stacked the cards on the table and sat next to Quinn. “Brad makes me so mad. Men can be such jerks.”

“I thought my future was set.” Quinn wiped her eyes. “I’d marry Brad, and we’d have two-point-three kids, two cats and a dog. Now, I’m back to square one. Well—minus one since I don’t have a man waiting in the wings.”

“That’s easy to fix.” Megan emptied her glass and smacked her lips. “There’s a woman at work who joined Marriage Minded, that local dating website they advertise on channel three. She got married within six months. You should register.”

Meeting total strangers didn’t appeal to Quinn. That’s why she couldn’t believe she was considering it. “Am I that desperate?”

“Yes, you are.” Her Tarot friend glanced up from shuffling. “Let’s discuss the real reasons you’re upset. First, you invested a lot, with no return. Except this delicious champagne.” She lifted the glass as if toasting. “Second, like your mother, you’ll start menopause by forty. Last, that curse gives you a small opening to get hitched and pregnant.” She elevated her voice for effect. “And a teeny-tiny window if you want more than one baby. So yeah, you’re desperate.”

“I say forget the marriage part.” Megan flapped her hand. “Adopt or go to a sperm clinic. In today’s world that’s the trend anyway. A woman doesn’t need a man to have children.”

“I don’t want my child’s daddy to be some number from a sperm bank. What if I chose a popular donor? It’d be a nightmare for my kid to find out he or she had five-hundred siblings.”

“Damn, talk about Christmas shopping hell,” Raynie said.

“Maybe I should try the dating site. I guess I have nothing to lose.”

Stashing the cards back in her purse, Raynie regarded Quinn. “Let’s fill out your profile and get you started down Happily-Ever-After Road.”

Quinn’s stomach knotted, her throat went dry, and her chest tightened. Did she want to meet a strange man? What if her date was a murderer, stalker, or worse—a
vegetarian
? She emptied her flute in one big gulp. “Yeah and hope I don’t end up in the ditch.” This might be the biggest mistake of her life.

Raynie opened Quinn’s laptop and pulled up the site. “You need something catchy to get attention. How about—I’m a hottie and ready to party?”

Quinn groaned. “Absolutely not.”

“Single and ready to mingle?”

“No. Sounds like I want sex.” She stopped. She
wanted
sex. Good sex. Hot sex. Down and dirty sex. It’d been years since she’d had that kind. She took another sip of champagne to cool the heat rising up her throat.

Raynie didn’t give up. “We can go with Quinn’s my name and writing is my game.”

Megan eyed her. “List the basics. You know, native Texan, works in media, loves bohemian style, cooking, and music—what else?”

“I love cats.”

“Yeah, add that, and the desire to have children.” Megan glanced at her watch. “Crap, we’ve got to go, or I’ll never get out of bed in the morning. This takeover deal at work is killing me.”

Raynie slid the laptop across the table and stood. “Well, if you were a lowly shop owner like me, instead of Miss Human Resources of Galaxy Marketing, you wouldn’t have to worry about punching a time clock.”

“Some days I wish was anything but that.” Megan lifted her purse and headed to the door.

“I’ve submitted the basics,” Raynie said. “I bet you’ll have little engagement rings popping up immediately.”

The mention of the one thing Quinn had expected from Brad, caught her off guard for a moment. She drew a sharp breath. “Rings?”

“That’s how they notify you of an interested party.”

“Okay. Thank y’all for coming.” Quinn stood at the door and watched them drive away. They’d been a good distraction, but now sadness washed over her. All her marriage dreams with Brad, squashed. Tears came again.

Minutes later, she got control and went back to her laptop to concentrate on her work assignment. Could she do justice to a Valentine article with her heart broken? She wasn’t in the mood to write about romance, but if she documented her dates from Marriage Minded she could pitch the idea to her editor. If he agreed to a series, it might cement a promotion in place, and act as therapy to get over Brad.

Alice Mabry planned to retire in a few months, and her long running column,
Ask Alice Anything
, would be up for grabs. If Quinn landed the gig, she’d be set. A big raise wasn’t the only benefit. The chance of the Associated Press picking up one of her columns could be a real coup. It might develop into talk show appearances. Radio interviews. Freelance work. A book deal. The possibilities were endless. With those thoughts churning in her brain, she opened a blank document and typed.

 

Why in today’s world does a modern-minded career woman have such a hard time finding the right mate?

 

She stared at the sentence, backspaced to erase, and started again.

 

In today’s world, finding the perfect balance between family and career is the hardest challenge women face.

 

The cursor pulsed as if to say, what next? To be fair, she shouldn’t limit her focus to females. Men faced the same problem or there wouldn’t be enough of them to go around. Both sexes searched for love and happily-ever-after.

After taking time to do some fact-checking, she typed again.

 

Incarcerated for life, even Charles Manson is engaged. So why can’t an average, single, successful, professional thirty-something do the same? Given that scenario, we’d all have a better chance of finding love if we were in prison.

 

It was good. Except the last part. Love in the joint could mean something different than what she wanted to convey. She deleted and re-typed.

 

Given that scenario, we’d all have a better chance at matrimony if we were in prison.

 

That was a good beginning. Hooked the reader. And was serious, but with a hint of wit and sarcasm. Sometimes a person had to find the humor to keep from killing someone.
I’m not bitter.
Quinn laughed out loud.

The outburst brought Lucy and Ethel from their hiding places. Quinn remembered the day she’d gotten the pets from the shelter. The teenage helper kept saying how gray tabbies were the most beautiful cats…
like ever
. And it’d just be wrong, right? I mean like to separate sisters? Like how could a person do that? Quinn had laughed at the girl’s plea and adopted both kittens.

BOOK: Two Wrongs Make a Right
7.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Crazy by William Peter Blatty
The Sins of a Few by Sarah Ballance
Tell Them Katy Did by Victor J. Banis
Undercover Elite (Undercover Elite Book 2) by Suzanne Steele, Stormy Dawn Weathers
Under Her Skin by Frost, Jeaniene, Brook, Meljean, Andrews, Ilona
The Love of the Dead by Saunders, Craig
Tilly by M.C. Beaton